Vanilla Kipferl Cookies are a traditional Austrian/German Christmas cookie. These light and crisp cookies are always shaped like a crescent and dusted with vanilla sugar.
Do these cookies look familiar? I wouldn’t be surprised.
Vanilla Kipferl cookies are very similar to a number of other cookies made with nuts and coated with powdered sugar. Ever made Walnut Crescent Cookies, Russian Tea Cookies or Mexican Wedding Cookies? Well, these are pretty much the same idea.
When I worked for an Austrian pastry chef we made a cookie which I thought he called “Vanilla Kipfert”. They were made with ground hazelnuts in the dough.
When I was working on this recipe I googled the word “Kipfert” and quickly found out that, first of all, they are called “Kipferl”, not “kipfert” as I had mistakenly written it in my book. I also learned that Vanilla Kipferl is a Austrian/German cookie traditionally baked at Christmas time. (I guess that makes sense being that he was Austrian.) The name “Kipferl” refers to the crescent shape of the cookie.
I use hazelnuts in my recipe because I love the flavor. But you can use any nut in the cookie. Actually, because I didn’t have quite enough hazelnuts in the pantry I ended up using 1/2 hazelnuts and 1/2 almonds and the flavor was great. Walnuts or pecans would also work for this recipe. Obviously the type of nut will slightly change the flavor and texture of the cookie. They are all good, but I am partial to the hazelnut version.
The cookies are always called “Vanilla Kipferl”, not just “Kipferl” because the vanilla sugar is an integral part of the flavor for these cookies. The vanilla sugar coating on the outside of the cookie gives a big vanilla flavor as soon as you bite into the cookie. That’s kind of what makes them special and not just another nut cookie. Well, that and the crescent shape.
This is a great Christmas cookie recipe not just because they’re traditional, pretty, and tasty. This is a great “make ahead” recipe. To work ahead you can make the dough and shape the cookies. Then freeze the unbaked cookies in a single layer on a sheet pan. Once the cookies are frozen they can be packed into freezer bags and stored for up to 2 months.
When you’re ready to bake just line the frozen cookies on sheet pan and bake them. No need to defrost. You may need to add a minute or two the baking time.
Happy Baking Season!!
- 1 cup (4 oz, 112g) confectioner's sugar
- 2 sticks (8 oz, 224g) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups (9 oz, 252g) all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 oz, 112g hazelnuts, finely ground (see note)
- 1 cup (4 oz, 112g) confectioner's sugar for dusting
- 2 tablespoons vanilla sugar for dusting (see note)
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line two 1/2 sheet pans with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
- Cream the confectioner's sugar and butter until light and aerated. Add the yolk and vanilla and mix to combine. Add the flour, salt and ground nuts and mix just until incorporated.
- On a lightly floured surface and with your hands floured, form the dough into a log shape about 2" wide. Cut the long into 4 sections. Roll one section to a 1/2" thick rope. Cut the rope into 2" segments. Repeat with the other three pieces of dough.
- Roll both ends of each 2" piece of dough to form tapered points. Bend both ends to form the crescent shape. Place the cookies on the prepared pan, 1/2" apart. (see note) Bake until the tips turn golden brown, about 12-15 minutes. While the cookies are baking, whisk the vanilla sugar and confectioner's sugar in a small bowl or pie plate.
- Allow the cookies to cool on the pan for just 1-2 minutes so you can pick them up without them breaking apart. Roll the warm cookies in the sugar. Reserve any left over sugar. When the cookies are completely cool sprinkle them generously with the remaining sugar.
- The cookies will keep, stored in a covered container, at room temperature for 3-4 days.
Almonds, walnuts or pecans can be used in place of the hazelnuts.
I keep a separate bin of granulated sugar in the pantry for vanilla sugar. Whenever I use a vanilla bean I put the empty pod in the vanilla sugar bin. The pods will perfume the sugar in a few days. For a last minute vanilla sugar rub a few vanilla bean seeds into granulated sugar to flavor the sugar.
To work ahead, the formed cookies can be frozen on the sheet pan and then transferred to storage bags. Keep up to 2-3 months. You can bake the cookies without defrosting. This may add a few minutes to the baking time.
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